Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Colonel Gerhard Wheeler: My year in Afghanistan

Deputy Commander reflects on a year in Helmand

A Military Operations news article

28 Feb 11

Colonel Gerhard Wheeler from the Royal Welsh regiment was the Deputy Commander of Task Force Helmand throughout 2010. Here he reflects on the battles, losses and progress he witnessed.

Afghan National Policeman

An Afghan National Policeman trains his assault rifle on Taliban positions during the hotel siege on 29 January 2010
[Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2010]

As another set of grenades ripped through the fabric of the half-built hotel, I peered out from my nearby shelter, wondering how it would all end. The siege had kicked off just a couple of hours before, when the Taliban mounted a bold attempt to attack the home of Gulab Mangal, the Governor of Helmand province.

Six insurgents had occupied the four-storey construction site that overlooked the Governor's compound in Lashkar Gah, Helmand's capital, but no-one was aware of their presence until the leader of the Governor's bodyguard, an old, Soviet-era mujahideen fighter, spotted one of them preparing a grenade-launcher and raised the alarm by opening fire.

That lit the touchpaper and the insurgents returned indiscriminate fire from every storey, seemingly intent on causing as much damage as they could with the short lives they had left. To the people of Lashkar Gah, each shot the cornered fighters fired was a brutal reminder of the very real threat the insurgency continued to pose to their future.

I had arrived in Afghanistan two months earlier. My one-year posting as the Deputy Commander of Task Force Helmand was to provide some continuity in an organisation where the norm [for British forces personnel] is to serve for six months....

Go - now - and read the rest here.

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